A well-intentioned effort from a debut author, this does not rise above the plethora of existing tales about whales—beached,...

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EMMA AND THE WHALE

Emma lives near the sea, where she enjoys beachcombing and playing with her dog, Nemo.

Sometimes the fair-skinned redhead thinks about “olden times,” imagining herself in a boat alongside a whaling vessel, persuading its harpooner not to harm cetaceans. At other moments, her thoughts have an environmental twist: “She liked to picture an ocean teeming with life, with no balloons or bottles spit to shore.” White’s serene watercolor-and–mixed-media compositions feature a muted palette made up primarily of greens, grays, blues, and black. Scenes of the past are rendered in mustard and brown. Stylized trees dot the seascape. The central action concerns a beached baby whale that Emma discovers during a walk. She caresses the creature, discerning its thoughts and intuiting its fears and gender. Implausibly, she doesn’t think about going for help but rather waits for the tide to come in. She then single-handedly pushes the whale into the current, sending it back to its mother. Unrealistic plot elements mix uncomfortably with the ecological messages, producing neither the playfulness of fantasy nor the accuracy of realism. The choppy prose—“At low tide, that’s when they found the best treasures”—does not enhance the package.

A well-intentioned effort from a debut author, this does not rise above the plethora of existing tales about whales—beached, biblical, or bellicose. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53847-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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